Memory loss is not only embarrassing but can be downright dangerous in older adults. If you notice that your loved one has forgotten important details in recent days or weeks, it’s time to pay attention and take some action to help protect their health and safety. Memory loss in seniors can have numerous causes, so it’s important to get them checked out by their doctor as soon as possible to determine the right treatment plan for them.
Today, we’re taking an in-depth look at memory loss in aging family members, why it happens, and how to keep your memory sharp as you age. Along the way, we’ll offer some tips on how you can help your parents or grandparents avoid these problems, as well as what to do if someone you know suffers from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Many people take prescription medications to treat everything from high blood pressure and arthritis to depression. While these medications are designed to improve your health, they can sometimes interfere with memory loss in seniors. Some of these drugs contain nitrates which cause narrowing of blood vessels and a reduced oxygen supply to tissues throughout your body. Your brain needs a constant supply of oxygenated blood for you to remember things! If your memory is slipping, try talking with your doctor about alternative medications that won’t affect memory loss in aging loved ones.
Smoking is one of those age-old reasons for memory loss in older people. Even a small amount of cigarette smoke can cause oxidative stress and damage to brain cells, which leads to memory loss. If you’re a social smoker, you might notice some memory issues, but they will be significantly worse if you’re a regular smoker or someone who has quite recently. While many people notice an improvement in their memories when they quit smoking, it will take time before they return to normal and long-term damage cannot be reversed. If you need to improve your memory, quitting is probably one of your best bets. However, even then, it may not return to normal right away; you’ll have less difficulty remembering things than you did before quitting.
Sleep deprivation in older adults often goes unnoticed because there are no obvious outward symptoms of memory loss. Sleep-deprived people can lack focus, confusion, mood swings, and inability to concentrate on a task. These are all typical signs of depression, but they can also be signs of sleep deprivation. Often, people think that their memory loss is simply because they’re getting older when it might be due to something as simple as not getting enough sleep each night. If you or someone you know has been struggling with memory issues, consider whether lack of sleep may be at fault. Get a good night’s rest and see if it helps your memory or not—it couldn’t hurt!
Depression and Stress
Depression is a mood disorder usually occurs when someone is overwhelmed by negative feelings for at least two weeks. If you or your loved one has been diagnosed with depression, it’s important to seek medical treatment immediately; not getting treatment can cause memory loss over time. Stress is another common cause of memory loss in seniors; stress often leads to anxiety and depression – which we already know causes memory loss! However, many people don’t realize that even chronic stressors like money issues or difficulty sleeping can lead to memory issues if they go on long enough.
A head injury is a serious matter and should be dealt with immediately. The human brain is hardwired to protect itself. Thus, it quickly closes any openings that can lead to further injury. It’s also known as an injury cascade, a quick series of actions taken by your brain to minimize damage as much as possible; these actions are vital for survival but can result in confusion and memory loss after you leave the hospital.